DALLAS - The Nationals are shopping for a center fielder at the Winter Meetings. How about the Orioles' Adam Jones?
Here's a proposal: The Orioles trade Jones to the Nationals for a pitcher, John Lannan or Ross Detwiler, second baseman Steve Lombardozzi and centerfielder Roger Bernadina. The Nationals could get one more player, but basically, the players named would be the foundation of the proposal.
The trade would be good for the Orioles because it would boost their pitching staff and give them insurance at second base in case Brian Roberts can't shake his concussion. If Roberts does return, he could bat leadoff and be the DH.
The trade would keep the Orioles from wondering if they have a chance to sign Jones to a long-term extension. He can leave via free agency after 2013.
Imagine adding Jones to the middle of a lineup that includes Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche.
Jones wouldn't bat leadoff, but the Nationals could go with shortstop Ian Desmond in that slot.
The Nationals could sign free agent pitcher Mark Buehrle and still have a rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang, either Lannan or Detwiler, and either Brad Peacock or Tom Milone.
Dan Duquette, the Orioles' new boss, knows he needs pitching. He's heard good things about Lombardozzi, but he's reluctant to break up a core group of Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy. Maybe it's tough to do, but how else do the Orioles get pitching depth?
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has built a good inventory of prospects that are wanted by other teams. He's being careful not to erase his depth in one trade.
If the Nationals don't acquire a center fielder, they could move Werth to center and play Bryce Harper in right.
The Nationals have talked to Tampa Bay about B.J. Upton and to Arizona about his brother, Justin, but the price is too high. They might not want to go after a prospect with no experience, such as Boston's Ryan Kalish or Minnesota's Ben Revere, or spend big money on a free agent such as Coco Crisp.
There are plenty of options for the Nationals, but the best solution could be in their system or up the road in Baltimore.